Feed aggregator

  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.

Chipmakers battle for slice of US government support

ArsTechnica - Mon, 08/01/2022 - 10:23am
Employees wearing cleanroom suits monitor chemical vapor deposition operations inside the GlobalFoundries semiconductor manufacturing facility in Malta, New York. Production plants for semiconductors have become a focal point as the economic recovery from the pandemic is held back in areas by a shortage of some of the critical electronic components necessary.

Enlarge / Employees wearing cleanroom suits monitor chemical vapor deposition operations inside the GlobalFoundries semiconductor manufacturing facility in Malta, New York. Production plants for semiconductors have become a focal point as the economic recovery from the pandemic is held back in areas by a shortage of some of the critical electronic components necessary.

The long wait for legislation to boost the US’s position in global semiconductor manufacturing is almost over. The scramble among companies to get their hands on the billions of dollars it unleashes is only just beginning.

The House of Representatives last week followed the Senate in passing a broad law to counter China’s rise as a technology power, including $52 billion in grants to support advanced chip manufacturing and research and development in the US. The law, which has yet to be signed, unlocks an estimated $24 billion more in investment tax credits for chipmakers by letting them write off 25 percent of the cost of new factories, or fabs, against their profits in the first year.

Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, said the act may be “the most important piece of industrial policy” in the US since World War II. It is designed to reverse a decline in the US share of global chip manufacturing to 10 percent from 38 percent in 1990.

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Dell follows Apple in exploring laptops with reverse wireless charging

ArsTechnica - Mon, 08/01/2022 - 9:31am
Dell follows Apple in exploring laptops with reverse wireless charging

Enlarge

A recently published Dell patent, spotted by Patently Apple, shows the company exploring the ability to wirelessly charge devices on a laptop's surface. We've seen similar concepts from Apple, which has already won patents for similar technologies. However, instead of simply dropping your iPhone on the laptop's surface and letting it charge, Dell's patent application describes a "wireless charging clip" that can attach to the PC and then be used to charge devices placed on top of it.

The patent (number 20220239124) was filed in early 2021 and was published Thursday. It doesn't guarantee a future product or feature, but it gives us a peek into what the company is considering.

The wireless charging clip has a surface with a charging coil and a ferrite sheet beneath. The clip would be connected to the PC by magnets.

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BMW readies a cheaper electric i4 sedan, due in early 2023

ArsTechnica - Mon, 08/01/2022 - 8:13am
Many people still find this large kidney grille to be too big, but some of us are starting to come around.

Enlarge / Many people still find this large kidney grille to be too big, but some of us are starting to come around. (credit: BMW)

As a late Gen Xer, I grew up in an era when BMW's cars were pretty easy to understand based solely on their model names. A 325i was a 3 Series with a 2.5 L engine, for example; a 540i was a 5 Series with a 4.0 L engine, and so on. BMW left that common-sense naming approach in the dust quite some time before it set a goal to have sold 2 million plugins by 2025, but even the new nomenclature gives some clues about where a new model fits in the range.

For example, the newly announced i4 eDrive35 is the company's new entry-level EV sedan, slotting in underneath the i4 eDrive40 and the i4 M50.

With a starting price of $51,400, the new i4 configuration undercuts the existing eDrive40 by $4,500. It also uses a single synchronous electric motor driving the rear wheels, although in the eDrive35, it has been derated to 281 hp (207 kW) and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm). That's still sufficient to endow the i4 eDrive35 with a sub-6-second 0–60 time, and there's a decent chance this might actually be the best driver's car from the range.

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Official Andor trailer shows us what the birth of a revolution looks like

ArsTechnica - Mon, 08/01/2022 - 7:28am

Diego Luna reprises his role as Cassian Andor in the new Disney+ prequel series Andor.

Disney+ has released an action-packed trailer for Andor, the forthcoming 12-episode prequel series set five years before the events of Rogue One, starring Diego Luna as Cassian Andor.

As we've reported previously, our first look at the series came from a behind-the-scenes teaser in December 2020 during Disney's Investors Day. We got a short teaser earlier this year at Star Wars Celebration. Andor has been described as a "tense, nail-biting spy thriller," with Tony Gilroy, who co-wrote Rogue One, serving as showrunner.

The story begins with the Empire's destruction of Cassian Andor's homeworld and will depict his transformation from a "revolution-averse" cynic to a major player in the nascent rebellion who is willing to sacrifice himself to save the galaxy. According to Deadline Hollywood, Luna described Andor as “the journey of a migrant. That feeling of having to move is behind this story—that shapes you as a person. It defines you in many ways, and what you are willing to do.”

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We’re about to enter the heart of the Atlantic hurricane season

ArsTechnica - Mon, 08/01/2022 - 7:03am
Released in May, this was the NOAA forecast for Atlantic hurricane activity in 2022.

Enlarge / Released in May, this was the NOAA forecast for Atlantic hurricane activity in 2022. (credit: NOAA)

Take a deep breath, everyone—the Atlantic hurricane season is one-third over. And there's some good news to report.

To date, the Atlantic has produced three named storms, Alex, Bonnie, and Colin. Historically, three named storms before the beginning of August would represent a busier-than-usual start to a season that officially lasts six months, from June 1 to November 30. But a simple storm count is a superficial measure of activity.

None of these storms has exceeded tropical storm strength, and they lasted only about a day. By other more revealing measures, the Atlantic is having a relatively slow start. At the beginning of August, an average year produces nearly nine days on which a tropical storm or hurricane has been active. This year, the number of "named storm days" is just 3.25. And by the measure of "accumulated cyclone energy," which accounts for both storm duration and intensity, the Atlantic basin is only producing about 30 percent of its normal activity.

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No code, no problem—we try to beat an AI at its own game with new tools

ArsTechnica - Mon, 08/01/2022 - 6:00am
Is our machine learning yet?

Enlarge / Is our machine learning yet?

Over the past year, machine learning and artificial intelligence technology have made significant strides. Specialized algorithms, including OpenAI's DALL-E, have demonstrated the ability to generate images based on text prompts with increasing canniness. Natural language processing (NLP) systems have grown closer to approximating human writing and text. And some people even think that an AI has attained sentience. (Spoiler alert: It has not.)

And as Ars' Matt Ford recently pointed out here, artificial intelligence may be artificial, but it's not "intelligence"—and it certainly isn't magic. What we call "AI" is dependent upon the construction of models from data using statistical approaches developed by flesh-and-blood humans, and it can fail just as spectacularly as it succeeds. Build a model from bad data and you get bad predictions and bad output—just ask the developers of Microsoft's Tay Twitterbot about that.

For a much less spectacular failure, just look to our back pages. Readers who have been with us for a while, or at least since the summer of 2021, will remember that time we tried to use machine learning to do some analysis—and didn't exactly succeed. ("It turns out 'data-driven' is not just a joke or a buzzword," said Amazon Web Services Senior Product Manager Danny Smith when we checked in with him for some advice. "'Data-driven' is a reality for machine learning or data science projects!") But we learned a lot, and the biggest lesson was that machine learning succeeds only when you ask the right questions of the right data with the right tool.

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Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols dead at 89

ArsTechnica - Sun, 07/31/2022 - 12:36pm
 the Original Series</em>.

Nichelle Nichols made TV history with her portrayal of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: the Original Series. (credit: CBS)

Actress Nichelle Nichols—who made history with her portrayal of Nyota Uhura on Star Trek: The Original Series—died Saturday, July 30, at the age of 89. Her son Kyle Johnson announced Nichols' passing on her official Instagram account, saying his mother had died of natural causes. (The Los Angeles Times reported cause of death as heart failure.) Deadline Hollywood confirmed her passing with Gilbert Bell, her talent manager and business partner of 15 years. Nichols suffered a mild stroke in 2015 and was diagnosed with dementia in 2018. She rarely appeared in public after that.

(Last year we wrote about Woman in Motion, a new documentary about Nichols and her recruitment work for NASA, directed by Todd Thompson (streaming on Paramount+). A portion of the following is adapted from that text.) 

Nichols started her career as a dancer and singer. She had wanted to become the first Black ballerina, and by age 14 landed her first gig at the Sherman Hotel in Chicago. She subsequently toured the US, Canada, and Europe with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before settling in Los Angeles in 1960 to pursue acting.

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Biden tests positive again in COVID rebound, heads back to isolation [Updated]

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/30/2022 - 1:01pm
US President Joe Biden waves from his isolation following a virtual meeting on July 26, 2022.

Enlarge / US President Joe Biden waves from his isolation following a virtual meeting on July 26, 2022. (credit: Getty | The Washington Post)

Update 7/30/2022, 4:00pm ET: Late this Saturday morning, President Joe Biden once again tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, marking the start of a COVID-19 "rebound."

According to the president's physician, Kevin O'Connor, Biden is not experiencing any renewed symptoms and "continues to feel quite well." However, due to the positive rapid antigen test, he will re-enter isolation.

Biden, 79, first tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 Thursday, July 21, while experiencing mild symptoms. He immediately began a five-day course of the antiviral Paxlovid, which had ended by Tuesday, July 26, when he tested negative on a rapid antigen test. He continued to test negative on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before testing positive again today.

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The weekend’s best deals: Kindle Unlimited, Nintendo Switch games, and more

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/30/2022 - 8:33am
 Kindle Unlimited, Nintendo Switch games, and more

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It's the weekend, which means it's time for another Dealmaster. Our latest roundup of the best tech deals from around the web includes a hefty discount on Amazon's Kindle Unlimited ebook subscription service. You'll have to be a new user to take advantage, but if you've been thinking about giving the service a try, Amazon is currently offering a four-month membership for $5. The subscription normally costs $10 a month after a 30-day free trial, so this discount saves you $25 in total.

Not every ebook included in Kindle Unlimited's library is a winner—a chunk of the selection consists of self-published works—and it's always possible to use apps like Libby to borrow ebooks from your local library for free. Still, the collection is large enough to cover plenty of works that are worthwhile, including a variety of magazines and comic books, and a subscription lets you take out up to 20 titles at a time. You don't need to own an actual Kindle device to access the library, either.

At its normal going rate, Kindle Unlimited's value is more questionable, but this deal should make it less risky to see if the service is worth it for you. If you do subscribe, note that your subscription will be set to auto-renew at the normal $10-per-month rate, but you can cancel your membership immediately after signing up without losing access to the discounted trial period.

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Apple Watch buying guide: Which wearable is best for you?

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/30/2022 - 4:15am
Extreme close-up photograph of a wristwatch on a hand in a pants pocket.

Enlarge

Broadly speaking, recommending an Apple Watch is simple: If you use an iPhone and want a smartwatch, staying in-house with Apple will usually be your best bet.

But there are several Apple Watches on the market right now. The introduction of the Apple Watch Series 7 in September 2021 brought Apple's lifetime total to nine, with the company currently offering three models in stores: the Series 7, SE, and Series 3. Among those, there are multiple variants that differ in size, connectivity, design, and price.

Then there are older-but-still-updated generations you can dig up from third-party retailers like Best Buy and Amazon, as well as options to buy refurbished devices. Everyone has different needs, and you may be able to find an Apple Watch that’s less expensive and more attuned to your desires by going these routes.

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Satellite images + lucky boat trip give new info on glowing “milky seas”

ArsTechnica - Sat, 07/30/2022 - 2:00am
Black and white satellite image shows an island covered in intense lighting just north of a dimly lit swirl of ocean.

Enlarge / The boat trip went through an area of milky sea south of the lights of an island. (credit: Steven Miller, Leon Schommer, and Naomi McKinnon)

On some moonless nights, enormous patches of the Northwest Indian Ocean and seas around Indonesia begin to glow. This event has been witnessed by hundreds of sailors, but only one research vessel has ever, by pure chance, come across this bioluminescent phenomenon, known as milky seas. Thanks to that vessel, samples showed that the source of the light was a bacteria called V. harveyi, which had colonized a microalgae called Phaocystis. But that was back in 1988, and researchers have yet to be in the right place and the right time to catch one of these events again.

Both the bacteria and algae are common to those waters, so it’s not clear what triggers these rare events. To help understand why milky seas form, researchers have gotten much better at spotting these swaths of bioluminescence from the skies. With the help of satellites, Stephen Miller, a professor of atmospheric science, has been collecting both images and eyewitness accounts of milky seas for nearly 20 years. Thanks to improvements in the imaging capabilities over the past decades, Miller published a compilation last year of probable milky seas in the time frame of 2012 to 2021, including one occurrence south of Java, Indonesia, in summer 2019.

But these satellite observations lacked surface confirmation—that is, until the crew of the yacht Ganesha reached out to Miller with their first-hand account of what they had experienced during their trip through the seas around Java that August, which was recently published in PNAS. Their eyewitness corroboration—along with the first photographs of a milky sea—show that these satellites are indeed a powerful tool for spotting these events.

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US regulators will certify first small nuclear reactor design

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 3:20pm
NuScale's reactor-in-a-can.

Enlarge / NuScale's reactor-in-a-can. (credit: NuScale)

On Friday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it would be issuing a certification to a new nuclear reactor design, making it just the seventh that has been approved for use in the US. But in some ways, it's a first: The design, from a company called NuScale, is a small modular reactor that can be constructed at a central facility and then moved to the site where it will be operated.

The move was expected after the design received an OK during its final safety evaluation in 2020.

Small modular reactors have been promoted as avoiding many of the problems that have made large nuclear plants exceedingly expensive to build. They're small enough that they can be assembled on a factory floor and then shipped to the site where they will operate, eliminating many of the challenges of custom on-site construction. In addition, they're structured in a way to allow passive safety, where no operator actions are necessary to shut the reactor down if problems occur.

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As BA.5 continues to blaze across US, feds scrap summer booster plans

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 12:37pm
As BA.5 continues to blaze across US, feds scrap summer booster plans

Enlarge (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

Federal officials have reportedly scrapped plans to expand access to second COVID-19 booster doses this summer, opting instead to pressure vaccine-makers Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech to produce their next-generation BA.5-targeting boosters even faster than before, possibly in September.

Currently, people ages 50 and over, as well as those 12 and up with certain health conditions, can receive a second COVID-19 booster dose. But, with the ultratransmissible BA.5 wave threatening more infections and reinfections at a time when vaccine protections are fading, officials earlier this month toyed with the idea of opening second boosters to all adults. At the time, they were expected to decide the matter within the following weeks.

That decision window has now closed. And although BA.5 is still raging, the Biden administration has reportedly abandoned the plan to instead focus on the new booster vaccines for those 12 and up, which were previously expected to roll out in October and November.

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Sega Genesis Mini 2 will be in much shorter supply than original

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 11:53am
The Sega Genesis Mini 2 will not be sold at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, so this is instead an artistic approximation of the system's apparent scarcity.

Enlarge / The Sega Genesis Mini 2 will not be sold at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, so this is instead an artistic approximation of the system's apparent scarcity. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

The miniature console fad has abated since its NES Classic and SNES Classic peak, with fewer companies giving the concept a shot. Sega remains an exception, however, as it's launching not one but two new retro-minded machines by year's end.

Only one of those, the Sega Genesis Mini 2, is coming to the United States. And Sega confirmed to Ars Technica that the system in question would be in incredibly limited supply: "around one-tenth" the count of the 2019 Sega Genesis Mini.

Mini production run for Mini 2

The news came as a surprising answer to a completely different question. Ars reached out to Sega shortly after the Genesis Mini 2 was announced, because we wanted clarity on exactly who was producing and shipping the system.

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VMware Fusion beta joins Parallels in supporting Windows VMs on Apple Silicon

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 11:26am
VMWare Fusion running on a Mac Studio.

Enlarge / VMWare Fusion running on a Mac Studio.

The transition from Intel to Apple Silicon Macs has gone smoothly for most software, thanks to the Rosetta 2 compatibility software and app developers who have quickly added Apple Silicon support to their software. But the ability to run Windows and Windows apps, either directly on the hardware via Boot Camp or via a virtual machine, still isn't officially supported.

But makers of paid virtualization software have been working to close that gap. Parallels Desktop 17 will run the Arm version of Windows 11 inside a virtual machine, and yesterday VMware released a beta version of VMware Fusion 12 that can do the same thing.

VMware's blog post details some of the changes they've made to support Windows 11, many of which parallel the work that Parallels has done. To meet Windows 11's TPM requirement, the software creates an encrypted file that is used to store the same kinds of data that an actual TPM would store on a real PC. VMware also includes a basic 2D graphics driver so that the Windows desktop can be rendered properly on high-resolution displays, plus a basic networking driver.

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Inflating spider corpse creates robotic claw game of nightmares

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 11:11am

(credit: Preston Innovation Laboratory)

Shortly after the Preston Innovation Lab was set up at Rice University, graduate student Faye Yap was rearranging a few things when she noticed a dead curled-up spider in the hallway. Curious about why spiders curl up when they die, she did a quick search to find the answer. And that answer—essentially, internal hydraulics—led to delightfully morbid inspiration: Why not use the bodies of dead spiders as tiny air-powered grippers for picking up and maneuvering tiny electronic parts?

Yap and her colleagues—including adviser Daniel Preston—did just that. They transformed a dead wolf spider into a gripping tool with just a single assembly step—essentially launching a novel new research area they have cheekily dubbed "necrobotics." They outlined the process in detail in a new paper published in the journal Advanced Science. The authors suggest the gripper could be ideal for delicate "pick-and-place" repetitive tasks and could possibly be used one day in the assembly of microelectronics.

Preston's lab specializes in so-called soft robotics, which eschews the usual hard plastics, metals, and electronics in favor of more nontraditional materials. Hydrogels and elastomers, for example, can serve as actuators powered by chemical reactions, pneumatics, or even light. Roboticists have also long found inspiration for their designs in nature, studying the locomotion of such animals as cheetahs, snakes, insects, starfish, jellyfish, and octopuses. (See, for example, our story on the development of the OctaGlove, designed to grip slippery objects underwater.)

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Genetically engineered rice needs less fertilizer, makes more food

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 10:51am
Image of a series of steps in a hillside, each covered in green vegetation.

Enlarge / A terraced rice field in Vietnam. (credit: Getty Images)

Nitrogen fertilizer is made from natural gas. Extracting and burning natural gas is harming life on our planet, so we should probably stop doing it (or at least try to cut back considerably). But food crops, like all plants, need that nitrogen. It’s quite the conundrum, especially since the human population relying on those crops is slated to grow over the next few decades, while the acreage of arable land is slated to drop.

In response, genetic engineers in China have been developing crops that can thrive with less nitrogen, and they made a strain of rice with a yield that’s 40 to 70 percent higher than that of regular rice. It has more grain per branch, each grain particle is bigger and denser, and the plants flowered earlier. Most breeding methods currently used in cereal crops can only generate a yield increase of less than 1 percent, so this is a pretty big deal.

One gene alters many

The scientists started by looking at proteins called transcription factors, which often control the expression of a set of genes that are often involved in varying aspects of a single physiological function. In this case, the focus was on transcription factors that were already known to regulate photosynthesis.

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Samsung’s “repair mode” lets technicians look at your phone, not your data

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 10:22am
A smartphone gets repaired.

Enlarge / A smartphone gets repaired. (credit: Getty Images / krisanapong detraphiphat)

Samsung is introducing an interesting new feature for people sending in their Galaxy phones for repair: "repair mode." When shipping off your phone, you might want to do something to protect your data, and the new feature sounds like a great solution. It locks down your data, but not your phone.

Handling data during a mail-in repair process is tough. You could wipe your phone, but that's a big hassle. You don't want to just send in a completely locked down device, as technicians can't thoroughly test it if they're locked out of everything. While in repair mode, technicians can still poke around in your device and test everything, but they'll only see the default apps with blank data. When you get your device back, you can re-authenticate and disable repair mode and you'll get all your data back.

The feature was first spotted by SamMobile, and Samsung has so far only announced the feature in a Korean press release; it is first launching in Korea for the Galaxy S21 (the S22 is Samsung's latest flagship phone). Repair mode can be turned on from the settings menu, and Samsung says (through Google translate), "You won't be able to access your personal data, such as photos, messages, and accounts," and anyone with the phone will "only use the default installed apps."  Repair mode can be exited the same way, though you'll need to authenticate with a pattern, pin, or fingerprint.

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Despite $100 price increase, Meta Quest 2 still offers historically cheap VR

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 10:19am
Screenshot of promotional video for VR equipment.

Enlarge / You could be this gleeful, too, if you were in the Meta Quest 2! (credit: Facebook)

If there's one rule about computer and video game hardware, it's that prices always come down after launch. The Meta Quest 2 became the exception that proves the rule this week, as Meta announced a coming $100 price increase for the popular standalone VR headset, to $400.

The increase, which Meta blamed on "rising costs," suggests the company may be trying to rein in subsidized hardware pricing that has contributed to nearly $1 billion in monthly losses for its virtual reality division in the most recent quarter.

But when you look at the short history of consumer-grade home virtual reality headsets, the Meta Quest 2 is still a historically cheap VR entry point, even after the price increase. That's especially true when you account for inflation and the extra hardware needed to power most other comparable headsets on the market.

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Razer’s latest wireless mechanical keyboard has a low profile and a high price

ArsTechnica - Fri, 07/29/2022 - 10:07am
Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro

Enlarge / Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro. (credit: Razer)

Peripherals and PC maker Razer this week introduced a new wireless mechanical keyboard that resurrects one of its most creepily named products. The DeathStalker V2 Pro—as well as its wireless, tenkeyless version and wired, full-sized version—manages to be just 1 inch tall at its thickest part by using low-profile mechanical switches that rely on light-based actuation. They're the first keyboards to use Razer's Low-Profile Optical Switches.

Optical mechanical switches actuate when the switch's stem interacts with an infrared light beam within the switch's housing. Razer already sells optical switch keyboards, like the Razer Huntsman Mini Analog, whose keys are also pressure-sensitive. But this is the first time the company has made its optical mechanical technology so short.

The linear optical mechanical switches have a travel distance of 2.8 mm, and they actuate at 1.2 mm with a force of 45 g. For comparison, Cherry MX Reds, have 4 mm of travel and actuate at 2 mm with a force of 45 g.

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